HC Deb 16 March 1903 vol 119 cc858-9

I wish to ask a Question with reference to the White Paper which has been issued from the War Office containing the evidence of Colonel Kinloch. That is only one paper referring to one part of a large transaction. When pressed on this subject on Wednesday evening the Secretary for War said that if forced to do so he would lay the papers on the Table.† He used the word "papers" in the plural. I have refreshed my memory by referring to The Times, and it is beyond all doubt that the reference was to documents affecting the whole inquiry. I want now to ask—Is the Speaker satisfied, first, that the rule that every document which has been referred to shall be produced, has been complied with; and, secondly, has the pledge given to the House been observed? †See page 5002.


The question concerning a pledge said to have been given by a Minister is one with which I have nothing to do. The other question is as to whether the document which has been laid on the Table of the House satisfies the rules of debate. I have seen that document, I have considered the matter, and I think it does satisfy the rules of debate, for this reason;—the right hon. Gentleman, in addressing the House, said that Lord Roberts had dealt with Colonel Kinloch's case upon Colonel Kinloch's own evidence, and he proceeded to give what he considered to be the effect of that evidence. He was challenged as to the accuracy of the statement, and he quoted from Colonel Kinloch's evidence the statements on which he relied. I was then asked whether he was not bound to produce the whole of the document, and I said yes, subject to his stating that it was not in the public interest to do so. As regards Colonel Kinloch's evidence, the right hon. Gentleman has, in my opinion, put in all that was necessary in order to satisfy the rules of the House. The principle of the rule is that if a Minister quotes from a document, the context must be placed before the House, so as to enable the House to judge whether there is anything in the rest of the document which would modify, alter, or contradict that which was quoted. In this case the question was whether Colonel Kinloch's evidence had been rightly quoted by the right hon. Gentleman. He has produced the whole of that evidence. In so doing he has satisfied the rule. As to any promise given by a Minister, that is a matter for him and not for me.